Bill O’Reilly. Roger Ailes. Harvey Weinstein. Kevin Spacey. Louis C.K. Charlie Rose. Matt Lauer. And the list of famous and authoritative men falling into disgrace, their years of predation finally exposed, goes on and on. Maybe you’ve been shocked to see some of your own icons turn out to be so...flawed? Sick? Abusive? Or maybe the only thing you’ve found shocking about any of this is how long it took for so many of us to realize how bad the culture of toxic masculinity has been.
In any case, this moment has many of us wondering just what exactly is wrong with men. Which makes it a more critical time than ever to ask: what might a healthy, feminist masculinity look like in this day and age?
This coming Sunday, the Humanist Hub is delighted to present a conversation with a unique authority on what it means to be a healthy man today: Dr. Tom Schiff, the founder and Director of the Men and Masculinities Center at UMass Amherst (one of only two US campuses to have established such a center) and the founder and Executive Director of Phallacies, Inc., a nonprofit organization that uses the dialogue and applied theater to promote conversation and action to support masculinities that are healthy for ourselves, our relationships, and our communities.
Traditional notions of masculinity create confusion for many men about what it means to be a man and can funnel men into having insufficient knowledge about health, to take risks with their own and others’ health, and to engage in violent and abusive behaviors.
Research indicates that the more overtly a man accepts this traditional masculinity, the more likely he is to be sexually and relationally violent, drive unsafely, refuse to use condoms, use dietary supplements, carry weapons, engage in high risk drinking and drug use, and many other unhealthy and dangerous behaviors. All are welcome to join our community as we discuss, with Dr. Schiff, not only how men can avoid such dangerous or exploitative behaviors, but what healthy alternatives might look like: what can it truly mean to envision and create healthy masculinities today?
Tom Schiff, Ed.D. has over thirty five years of experience as an educator, counselor, trainer, and consultant working with boys and men on issues of health, leadership development, violence prevention, sexual harassment, sexism, and homophobia. In addition to his work with Phallacies, Inc. and the UMass Men and Masculinities Center, he has served as a trainer and consultant for organizations ranging from public school systems to small local non-profits to the NFL. He is also a faculty member in both the Social Justice Education program and the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department at UMass Amherst.